Summary: The story of Hosea and Gomer illustrates how Israel became unfaithful to God which produced a divorce. But eventually God told Hosea to take his wife back and to love her as he had done when they were first married.
The Greatest Love Story Never Told
Today we’re going to talk about the greatest love story NEVER told. If you look for a list of great love stories, you’ll find Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, Heathcliff and Catherine, Rhett and Scarlet … What you WON’T find on the list of great love stories is … Hosea and Gomer. But their love story is in some ways the greatest … and certainly most unique … love story of all.
(By the way, Susan read a novel based on the story of Hosea and Gomer. If any of you like to read historical romance, go see her and she’ll give you the name.)
We’ll focus on the book of Hosea today. And we’ll treat Hosea’s love story like any great literature. We’ll talk about Setting, Plot, and Theme.
To understand the setting for the book of Hosea, we need to set the historical stage. We’re in a series called The Story, going through the Old Testament in 20 weeks. (slide) From Adam to Abraham to Moses to David and Solomon we’ve covered thousands of years. Last week Ronnie talked about how the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the 10 Northern Tribes and the Southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
During the next years, both Kingdoms went through several kings. The Southern Kings were a mix of good and bad. The Northern Kings were pretty much all bad. These were years of wars, drought, famine, and all kinds of troubles. And during these years, God sent one Prophet after another to give His message to His people.
This is the part of the Bible where people tend to get bogged down. The books of the Old Testament are arranged by theme rather than by strict chronology. (slide) You can see approximately where these books fall on the screen. (The books that are brown on screen are historical books that give a chronological history of God’s people.)
The time of the divided Kingdom is when we read about Prophets like Elijah – who challenged the prophets of Baal and God sent fire from heaven. We read about Elisha who saw Elijah taken to heaven in a flaming chariot and was given a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. At one point during these years 50 prophets were hiding in caves trying to escape from wicked King Ahab and the infamous Queen Jezebel.
You can read the Old Testament in different ways. You can read as a History buff and try to get a view of what it was like to live in those times. During the 208 years of the Northern Kingdom, there were 19 different Kings. Meanwhile the Southern Kingdom of Judah had its own Kings and Prophets. It’s a challenge to get the history straight, but it’s a fascinating study.
You can also read this part of the Old Testament as a way of learning more about who God is and how He relates to His People. The Prophet Amos gave this beautiful description of God: He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind,and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13
In the Bible, God REVEALS Himself to us. The Love Story found in the first 3 chapters of Hosea is part of that revelation.
The story starts this way: When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim… Hosea 1:2-3
I remember hearing this story about Hosea when I was young and thinking it was really weird. Why would God tell one of his Prophets to marry a prostitute? What kind of lesson was THAT supposed to teach? I now realize that it’s a beautiful story that illustrates an important truth. It’s a tragic story … but you’ll be glad to know it has a surprisingly happy ending.
We don’t know the details about Gomer’s past. We DO know that Israel was caught up in pagan worship. Baal worship included drunkenness, human sacrifice, and temple prostitution. It’s possible that Gomer was one of the women who was pulled into prostitution at a very young age. Maybe Hosea was rescuing her from a this pagan lifestyle.
Whatever the details, it’s clear that Hosea loved Gomer. When he married her, he did so wholeheartedly. Hosea’s commitment was complete and he remained faithful. The same can’t be said for Gomer.
But you can imagine that they were blissfully happy as newlyweds. When their first son was born, Hosea must have been as thrilled as any new dad. How shocked Hosea must have been when God told him, “Name the boy Jezreel.”